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Summer Guide 2024: Movie Screenings

It's time to appreciate the Minneapolis-St. Paul parks, theaters, and bars keeping movie watching weird during the summer.

Pierre Ware courtesy WAC|

Sound for Silents keeps it weird at the Walker.

Every season is movie season. But summer is the most fun movie season. It’s a time when the industry eschews serious Oscar bait and just gives us the dumbest, loudest, and most bombastic crap it can produce. School’s out; no thinking to be had here.

The following highlights some of the best/weirdest screenings in town this summer, with a focus on the classics that time is starting to forget, the harder-to-find indie flicks of yore, the crowd pleasers that keep coming back to the parks, and the oddities that somehow persevere. Whether you choose to sit outside with a stealth joint and a layer of bug spray or head indoors for some sweet A/C and canned wine from your purse, you have lots of (often free or cheap!) options.

The Heights Theater

Built in 1926 by Gluek Brewery heir Arthur Gluek, The Heights is an ancient venue that’s delightfully charming. There’s a motorized velvet drape that opens and closes the stage, there’s an orchestra pit that houses a Mighty Wurlitzer organ, and there are antique chandeliers sparkling with thousands of Egyptian lead crystals. Oh, and there are always movies. This summer’s lineup features a variety of series and standalone flicks. There will be homages to Steve McQueen (The Thomas Crown Affair, The Great Escape, Once Upon a Time…. In Hollywood) and Liz Taylor (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Secret Ceremony, Boom!), and the Heights’ “Celebration of Cinema” collection features a little bit of everything: Godzilla, A Hard Day’s Night, Napoleon Dynamite, Imitation of Life. Tickets to most shows cost you a mere $12. 3951 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights; heightstheater.com.

Movies at the Commons

Enjoy free movies on the lawn every Wednesday evening at dusk through August. The schedule includes The Outsiders; To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar; Hook; The Sandlot; Top Gun; and more. U.S. Bank Stadium. 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis; minneapolisparks.org.

Movies in the Parks Minneapolis

Once again, the Minneapolis Park Board is bringing over 70 free film screenings to neighborhoods across the city. This year’s lineup features recent hits (Barbie, Wonka, The Little Mermaid) and delightfully cheesy flicks from yesteryear (Drop Dead Gorgeous, Jaws, Clue, Best in Show, O Brother, Where Art Thou?). All of these shows start at dusk. Bring a blanket, snacks, and, most importantly, bug spray. For more info, check out Park and Rec’s handy website: mplsmusicandmovies.com. Movies are screening now through August 31.

Movies in the Parks St. Paul

St. Paul is also hosting a variety of film screenings at parks and gardens this summer. The selections here include Turning Red, Barbie, and Muppet Treasure Island, and more. Find the complete schedule at stpaul.gov. July 18 through August 23

The Riverview

This venue has it all: old-school signage, $5-$7 movie tickets, real butter on the popcorn, and a mix of movies both current and retro. This summer they have lots of new stuff (Fall Guy, Civil War, and I saw the TV Glow are all screening right now), $5 late-night flicks (The Big Lebowski, Call My By Your Name, Paprika, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and $1 kid-movie morning matinees (The Land Before Time, Hotel Transylvania, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs). 3800 42nd Ave. S., Minneapolis; riverviewtheater.com.

Sound for Silents: Film + Music

A selection of silent films from the museum’s Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection will screen outside on the Walker’s grassy hill, all set to a newly commissioned score performed live by composer deVon Russell Gray, featuring an ensemble including Ariadne Grief, Davu Seru, Nathan Hanson, and Andrew Broder. The event starts at 7 p.m. with music from a local DJ. Best of all, the event is free. Find more details at walkerart.org. Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. August 15

Summer at the Main

Yes, the Main screens new flicks regularly (Challengers, Maxxxine, Inside Out 2) but it also features a variety of special events, including the Minnesota Made series, the late-night Midnight Mayhem (Big Shark, The Brother from Another Planet), and National Theater Live, which features live tapings of productions in London’s West End. The Main Cinema, 115 SE Main St., Minneapolis; mspfilm.org.

Trash Film Debauchery

See amazing crap that time forgot on the big screen at Trylon on the third Wednesday of each month. This summer’s series kicks off June 19 with The Badge, The Bible, and Bigfoot, a really dumb looking 2019 movie about a cop that must fight the infamous cryptid with his faith… and guns. Mostly guns. $5. 7 p.m. Trylon Cinema, 2820 E. 33rd St., Minneapolis; trylon.org.

Trylon Cinema

Throughout the year, Trylon shows silver-screen classics, obscure films, world premieres, and cult movies. Series this summer include tributes to the long shot (Children of Men, Oldboy, Goodfellas), David Lean (Blithe Spirit, Brief Encounter), and Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins (Play It as It Lays, Pretty Poison). Other oddities include the monthly Tape Freaks series, where audiences are treated to an oddball surprise movie for $5, Sound Unseen flicks leading up to the big fest in the fall/winter, and Arab film screenings with Mizna. Check out their lineup at trylon.org. Trylon Cinema, 2820 E. 33rd St., Minneapolis.

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